L. Stop it with the blog hops. You're out of control.
"Some of us have a lot of ideas and thoughts, well probably all of us. So this is your time to shine and really make a ruckus (no really actually let's not fight about this we can all just agree to disagree about stuff). What is 1 unpopular horsey opinion you have?"
Ohhhh man. I could go on for days about my unpopular opinions! I mean, they're popular with the crowd I generally run with, but for the average h/j people that I find myself surrounded by on a daily basis, they are definitely unpopular.
Favorites include how every horse NEEDS turnout. Several hours, on a daily basis, even better if they can get 12+ hours. Horses aren't meant to live in boxes. I also believe that beating the snot out of your horse does not make them understand what you are asking them to do any better. And I also think that if your horse needs drugs or excessive lunging to show, you should pack it up and take it home until it can go in the show ring without any of that.
But what I'd like to write about today, is my opinion that every horse, no matter what discipline they are used for, needs to have good flatwork as an integral part of their training program.
|Flatwork. Not just for DQ's.|
If you're thinking, "But I'm a hunter/western/trail/jumper/whatever rider, I don't need to do that stuff. Dressage is for losers." please be quiet. Yes, you do. Let me tell you why.
The moment we sit on our horses' backs, we put physical stress on them that God and Nature did not design them to sustain. To maintain a comfortable, sound, willing horse, we need to educate their bodies to carry OUR bodies in the most efficient way possible, and help our horses strengthen the muscles they need to carry weight on their backs. This is done through proper flatwork, or dressage, if you will. If you cannot feel whether or not your horse is appropriately carrying your weight over his hind end, lifting his back, using his neck, and propelling you both forward with his hind legs, you need some educating. And your horse likely needs some educating, too if you aren't doing proper flatwork on a daily basis.
If you "don't care" about this, you are doing your horse a disservice and your horse is probably uncomfortable and is most likely inappropriately muscled, and is not performing to the best of his ability.
This isn't about putting the horse in a "frame" or making everything go like an FEI dressage horse, it's about making sure our horses are physically comfortable and strong enough to do what we're asking them to do. A good horse only gets better when ridden correctly from back to front. A hollow horse can't do its job as well as a round horse can.
ALL horses need a good flatwork education. YES hunters. YES jumpers. Just because your time in the show ring isn't spent flatting doesn't mean that it isn't important to the overall athletic development of your horse. The more elastic, rideable, and strong they are on the flat, the better they jump. End of story.
There is absolutely no reason why "flatwork" should only consist of cruising around the outside of the ring a few times in each gait to get ready for jumping. That's not beneficial to anyone.
Obviously, if a person is still at the point in their riding career where they're learning how to control their own body parts, I wouldn't expect them to be able to influence their horse's way of going, but eventually everyone, ESPECIALLY those who teach other riders, needs to learn how to at least feel when a horse is going correctly, and encourage roundness in a frame appropriate for their discipline, and riders who aren't capable of producing good flatwork on their own horses should ideally have a more experienced rider flat the horse from time to time.
Horses that are ridden correctly on the flat develop better toplines, stay sounder, move better, and are better equipped to do their jobs, whether that job happens to be racing the clock in the jumpers or loping around a hunter course.
Flame suit on.